Buying your first moon jellyfish…
Moon jellyfish have been popular in public aquariums for well over a decade now, but are becoming more popular as pets with more jellyfish aquariums coming to market. So what should your expectations be for growing your own moon jellyfish at home? How long will your jellies live? What should you feed them? How often should you feed? Well, instead of reading the lame Yahoo answers page on buying jellyfish, consider some advice from a professional jellyfish aquarist first…
OK, rule number #1… jellyfish die. Yes, your moon jellyfish are going to perish eventually and they are probably going to do so sooner than you expect. Why? You’re new at this and moon jellyfish are seasonal animals, they bloom and die every year in the wild. Bottom line is don’t get too emotionally invested in jellyfish as their biology will disappoint you. (If you’re buying a jellyfish for your kids you’ll need to explain this in a friendlier manner!) Here’s the great part though… moon jellyfish in particular are known to live in captivity for a few years, given that exceptional care is provided. Even if you don’t provide exceptional care you can expect about a year out of your jellies with the right setup. Short lifespan aside, jellies make great pets for several reasons:
– They don’t tear up your house, pee on your couch or eat your socks
– They are relaxing to watch, some say meditative
– They are the most unique pet you’ll ever have!
Alright so you just got your new moon jellyfish… what the heck do you do with these things? Try not to squish them! You will learn very quickly how to handle your new jellies. While the bag or container they came in can handle some jolts and even shaking you cannot crush it. Treat the bag with care. Probably the first thing you’re going to want to do is feed your jellyfish. Don’t do that. Let your jellies acclimate. Wait a few hours until you can see that the jellies are in their groove. The golden rule of “flow” is that you want just enough water flow to keep the jellies off the bottom. The flow should not be rapidly spinning them around the tank! Once they’re settled in you can try feeding them.
How much should you feed them? Well, this one is harder to answer given the varieties of foods out there. A good starting point is half a teaspoon of brine shrimp cysts, let those hatch and feed them out to your jellies. The stomach pouches of the moon jellies should turn orange as they gather the brine shrimp. Remember to never put water from the brine hatch into your tank, rinse your brine shrimp first! That brine hatch water contains ammonia, bacteria and the pH has likely changed significantly.
What about other types of foods like Rotifeast, Golden Pearls and Otohime? You will need to find the best amounts for those on your own for your system. Always start with the smallest amount, otherwise if you make a mess you will need to siphon that out of the tank to avoid fouling. And siphoning in your jellyfish tank is hazardous. Don’t suck up your jellies!
OK, good first day/night with your jellies? Now how often should you feed them? Well, it is going to depend on a couple things… does your tank have filtration? How often do you want to change the water? If your tank has minimal or no filtration, then whenever you feed I recommend changing some water out the next day or a few hours after feeding. How much water you change depends on the system but it should be at least 10% of the total system volume. Sound like a pain in the butt? Doesn’t have to be. Buy a 55 gallon trashcan, dissolve your salt in a trashcan of RO/DI water and you have yourself easy access to a lot of clean salt water! Ultimately you will want to educate yourself on the basics of the nitrogen cycle, test for presence of ammonia and determine the best routine for your given setup.
How much work are moon jellyfish? For me they are a full time job, but for you they only need to take up about 5-10 minutes of your day for proper care. Again, this is going to depend on your setup. At first you will probably need to invest more time than that in order to learn your tank’s cycle and the feeding requirements of your jellies. Some tasks like feeding can now be automated thanks to the variety of auto-dosers available these days (we’ll visit this topic in depth in the future!).
How hard are moon jellyfish to grow at home? Jellyfish in the home do not require the same commitment as say a reef aquarium does since you are not trying to emulate a small living reef ecosystem. However raising jellyfish at home does require observation and attention to detail. Watching, and enjoying, your jellies will be the most important aspect of keeping them. If you’re watching them and appreciating them daily then you are going to notice any growth or changes which will ultimately make you a better jellyfish aquarist.
I hope this helps with some of your first questions about keeping these cool new pets!